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Reflecting on Artivism 2021

Updated: Apr 9

Now that Artivism is over we have had a chance to look back at this wonderful collaborative International digital and live Festival run by Mandala Theatre Company in Oxford and Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah.

Our digital collaboration has opened hearts and minds to ideas, creativity and friendship with our partners in Palestine and around the world. The young people in Oxford have had the opportunity to share their thoughts on 'Artivism and Capitalism' with reference to Mandala's play Blood Oil written by Sean Burn, which they were able to share digitally. They could immerse themselves in watching International shows from Palestine, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, US, France, Spain and Ireland, participate in a Q&A with the artists involved in the Palestinian show and watch a Masterclass by French director Ahmed Madani.

In Oxford, UK, and Ramallah, Palestine parallel,live, in-person festivals also took place. In Oxford, the young people were a real global mix of different ethnic heritages all coming together to find a sense of belonging, family and home. Participating in theatre, dance, singing, storytelling, spoken word workshops and creating a performance that expressed their inner feelings about what being Caged and Freedom meant to them.

For the participants, freedom took on so many different meanings. From freedom of country, to freedom of the mind and mental health, to loving who you love, to being with family, to being accepted for who you are, to belonging. This is what freedom means to this special, loving, open and creative group of young people. Artivism 2021 came at a time when it was so needed after the separation and lack of connection we have all experienced. It has given us all a way of being connected, enabling our compassion, empathy, creativity and unity - the essence of what humanity is and can be.

In the words of the young people:

"Mandala, there is so much I can say, so I’ll say this – I have, through Mandala, found myself, my freedom, my family, my home. That is why you should join us, for theatre done right. 'Artivism' is the thread that brought us all together and will hold us together forever, without it we wouldn’t have had this festival or the experiences that it has brought". -Female Participant age 21 "The best thing about Mandala is it opens your eyes to the parts of the world that you don’t see everyday. You learn so much about other people's cultures and you hear the stories they have experienced. On top of that you get to produce a piece of art that is based around all of those experiences. It is truly beautiful". -Male Participant age 20.

Watch the finale performance below:

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